I opted to go down the public library rabbit hole in exploring Hyperlinked Environments. There were some great takeaways from this article about an incredible public library in Memphis. While the main attraction of this piece is about the 2+ million dollar teen facility that is truly a hyperlinked library masterpiece, there were also few kernels of wisdom about how to create a unique and successful hyperlinked environment anywhere. For one thing, and this point has been covered by a lot of my fellow students, “libraries are no longer hushed repositories of books” (Grant, 2021). This is such a radical change to the “SHHH!!!” library environments of my childhood.
In addition to the dramatic changes to the internal environment of libraries, there is a movement afoot linking people to the actual environment. There are studies investigating how vocabulary about the natural world is declining because people are increasingly disconnected from nature. There are also other studies which conclude that residents of low income neighborhoods have less access to green spaces which is critically linked to health and well-being. In the spirit of Wholehearted librarianship, could our libraries be a solution to both of these problems? Once again, I must give a shout out to my local library which is promoting free passes to the
Another student celebrated this opportunity on our class site, which is also running throughout the whole Bay Area. This is such a great program to encourage people to explore the outdoors. I wondered though, about patrons who might have anxiety or lack experience visiting immense rural spaces with minimal amenities or those who might be intimidated by overnight camping? I grew up camping, but many people have not had the opportunity to experience sleeping in the great outdoors. This got me thinking about how some libraries have been hosting sleepovers. It’s a very popular program in libraries all over the country and it is not something that I ever had the opportunity to do when I was a kid. When I was in 4th grade, my favorite book was From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which is about a brother and sister hiding out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art for several nights. I would have jumped at a chance for an overnight in my library. The sheer number of these events makes me think that librarians must be taking note of what other libraries are doing to morph into unique and innovative environments. The preliminary research that inspired Memphis’ Public Library director Keenon McCloy on how to revamp her branches involved talking to and visiting other great libraries. Her experience was that the libraries she reached out to, “all wanted to help me and share what they’d learned, because that’s how library people are. No one is proprietary and we’re not competitive with each other. We’re about the greater good” (Grant, 2021). In the spirit of seeing if other libraries are offering any in-house camping opportunities, I did another search. Sure enough, I found this.
This event is so cool and could be a great practice camp for a family. If your family doesn’t own a tent, the library has some to borrow. Many people don’t explore camping precisely because it requires a financial commitment for gear. Another search led me discover that there is an established tradition of gear lending libraries. Ideally, public libraries that would promote free State Park Passes would recognize that in addition to waiving park fees, they could offer a camp experience for learning how to set up a tent and how to make a delicious camp stew . They might also provide a connection to a local gear lending library to ensure that patrons have access to both the confidence and resources necessary to broaden their environmental horizons. Getting our patrons to come inside our libraries only to be inspired to go back outside and connect with the world feels very hyperlinked.
Grant, R. (2021, November). How Memphis created the nation’s most innovative public library. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/memphis-created-nations-innovative-public-library-180978844/?fbclid=IwAR1KhgGc_cXHfCduhqGtJ1Wi5Y2jRho1yW1Q62QjCNC5o2Qs9eLeGnzqqIM
Grimes Public Library. 2022. Family Camp Out.
Sonoma County Library. February, 2023. Visit CA State Parks for Free with Your Library Card.
2 thoughts on “Reflection 3: Creating Hyperlinked Environments for Connecting People to the Environment”
Libraries certainly have come a long way as you have described it. We rarely have people tell us to stay quiet at the library anymore and libraries also offer so much more than what many people think. Whenever I talk to some people, they fail to realize how much libraries have evolved. The California State Park Pass is definitely one of those things that is connecting library users to the outdoor environment, especially since there are so many places that we can visit in the beautiful state of California. I hope that this program continues to receive funding as it really does open many doors for people, particularly those in low socioeconomic areas. Perhaps they will continue to fund other similar programs such as these so that libraries are able to do more for their communities.
@mzrasmuson Wow! The camp put program is so neat! I had no idea. There is some outside the box thinking here…perhaps influenced by the pandemic (?) to get people together outside. So cool!!